Delegates to offer stadium funding compromise

January 30, 1995|By Jon Morgan | Jon Morgan,Sun Staff Writer

Several Baltimore-area lawmakers, seeking to preserve funding for a downtown football stadium, are preparing legislation to maintain money already set aside for the project but free up future revenue for other purposes.

The bill would retain the $24.3 million expected to be in the "football reserve fund" at the end of the fiscal year, but would allow future stadium lottery revenues of about $19 million a year not needed for debt service or operating expenses on Oriole Park to be diverted to non-recurring, capital projects.

"We think this keeps alive the prospects of getting a team, but does free up the money for other important public purposes," said Delegate Samuel I. "Sandy" Rosenberg, a Baltimore Democrat.

Rosenberg said he hopes to submit the legislation this week, along with co-sponsoring Democratic delegates Thomas E. Dewberry of Baltimore County and Donald C. Fry of Harford County.

Legislation passed in 1987 allowed for the construction of Oriole Park and an adjacent football stadium in Camden Yards if an NFL team could be secured for the city through relocation or expansion. The law allows the state to fund the project with revenue bonds repaid through a special lottery.

However, recent failures of the city to land teams has stadium opponents suggesting the bonding authority be deauthorized and the lottery revenues be devoted to other pressing purposes.

Maryland Stadium Authority chairman Herbert J. Belgrad, however, said he still is optimistic a team can be convinced to move to Baltimore and wants the funding kept in place.

"We look at Delegate Rosenberg's proposal as a friendly proposal, but a premature one," Belgrad said. "It is not a proposal we support at this time."

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